Tuesday, August 2, 2011
What is Mark Trumbo's upside?
By Mark Saxon
The physical traits are obvious. He's a tall, rangy guy who, when he connects, is capable of hitting the ball to places few players can reach.
The 457-foot towering shot on Brian Duensing's woefully misguided 0-and-2 fastball in the fourth inning spoke to Mark Trumbo's raw power.
But what the Angels are discovering about Trumbo in this, his rookie season, is that his mind might be as dangerous as his bat. Working in tandem, there's no telling where they could get him.
Angels bench coach Rob Picciolo, the Angels interim manager while Mike Scioscia served a one-game suspension Tuesday, coached Trumbo all the way through the minors. He's seen his clinical approach in action.
"He watches every pitch, he studies pitchers, he knows pitchers, he remembers pitchers," Picciolo said.
Imagine how good Trumbo is going to be when he's seen all these guys two or three times. His 20 home runs and 58 RBIs lead the Angels and have put him on a trajectory similar to the one Tim Salmon traveled while winning Rookie of the Year honors in 1993. Salmon is the only Angel rookie ever to hit as many as 30 home runs.
Trumbo said he concentrated on shortening his swing once Duensing got ahead of him, hoping to ground a ball up the middle and drive in Vernon Wells from second base. He hit it up the middle all right, but just a tad higher than he meant to. The ball clattered around the fake rocks 50 feet past the center-field wall.
Trumbo's production -- none of which the Angels could have predicted in March -- has helped keep the Angels tight to the first-place Texas Rangers, just a game back, while most of their middle-of-the-order bats have struggled. He set 20 home runs as a baseline goal entering this season.
"That's a good, solid number for a power hitter," Trumbo said. "If you're able to get there, the rest is... You know, everything's going to fall into place."